Over 1800 government bodies in the US have been using the Clearview AI facial recognition tool with little to no public oversight, in a clear violation of an individual’s privacy, according to newly assembled data.
Clearview AI is a US-based startup that offers its namesake searchable facial-recognition database to law enforcement agencies. The company’s process for building its database of images has been called into question. In fact, its data-collection practices are currently under investigation in both the UK and Australia.
But data provided to BuzzFeed News via an anonymous source claims the publicly funded agencies that have used Clearview AI include local and state police, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Air Force, state healthcare organizations, offices of state attorneys general, and even public schools.
Between 2018 and February 2020, individuals at the 1803 entities have used Clearview AI to reportedly look for people, including Black Lives Matter protesters, petty criminals, and even their own friends and family members.
BuzzFeed News contacted all of the agencies to surprisingly learn that in many cases the top bosses were unaware their employees were accessing the system.
In all, the agencies ran almost 340,000 searches. The data has been collated in a searchable table that also includes details about how an agency used Clearview AI.
BuzzFeed News believes the reason for the widespread and callous use of facial recognition technology stems from Clearview’s “flood-the-market strategy, in which it hawked free trials of its technology to seemingly anyone with an email address associated with the government or a law enforcement agency.”